Cornelissen & Son is the best art shop in London that I could find. First off, it’s Victorian – and the Victorians knew how to do immersive interiors whether they knew it or not. Victorian or any period commercial interiors are hard to come by – the only time I usually come across a period interior is usually residential; stately homes, grand homes in the country or the go-to for estate agents everywhere, ‘original features’ in a London home. Commercial interiors prove more elusive which is why you’ll have to venture to the depths of Russell Square and battle through the hoardes of tourists venturing to the British Museum for this one.
Cornelissen & Son is a magical testament to how the Victorians liked to conduct their business, a fully immersive experience where you could delight over a rainbow of pastels, oils, chalks, inks & paper. This is a ye old sweet shop for the creative. It’s hardly surprising that Cornelissen’s was the inspiration behind the wand shop, Ollivander’s in Harry Potter. This is proper Diagon Alley REALNESS.
A small shop, but densely packed with dark, numbered wooden drawers filled with sticks of pastels or reams of paper. Apothecary cabinets line the walls stacked with jars of pigment and bureau’s packed with every brush imaginable wait to be picked out.
I could rifle through the papers for hours; rice paper, Nepalese mountain paper, Japanese printmaking paper…
Cornelissen’s is a beautiful interior in it’s own right and to experience it is nothing short of inspiring.
However, there is something even better about it…no, there isn’t bar downstairs (although that would be INCREDIBLE). Even if you don’t class yourself as an ‘artist’ there is still the potential for discovery and the encouragement to experiment with your own version of creativity. Whether that’s buying a piece of paper because you like the texture and pouring Indian ink on it to see what happens, or a getting a stick of charcoal and drawing random shapes or gold leafing that Ikea frame you just got. Whatever your thing is or was or might be or if you just think you’re ‘not that creative’, Cornelissen’s will wave it’s wand/sable watercolour brush and undoubtedly work it’s magic, teasing out any latent artistry that lies within you that you might as well be stood on Diagon Alley shopping for your very own brand of magic.
Cornelissen & Son, 105 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3RY.